Evaluating Indy Lights 2003-Present Day

A discussion on Twitter got me thinking about the Firestone Indy Lights Series, and just how good of a job it is doing of preparing drivers for the next step, which is Indycar. To be honest, I thought the numbers would be less than stellar, but what I found out was I was completely wrong. I picked 2003 as a starting point because from there on, Indy Lights (for the most part) fed into the Indycar Series rather than Champ Car. Here are some stats I compiled, and these all have to do with drivers who at some point raced in Indy Lights at some point between 2003 to present day. These stats are as of July 10, 2012 following Toronto. Here they are:

Wins- 3 (Andretti- Sonoma '06, Iowa '11 & Carpenter- Kentucky '11)

Top-five finishes- 52

Top-ten finishes- 155

Combined starts by all drivers who raced in Indycar- 601

Number of drivers who were a part of those 601 starts- 28

The 28 Drivers- Andretti, Antinucci, Battistini, Beatriz, Camara, Carpenter, Chesson, Clauson, Cunningham, Dana, Herb, Hildebrand, Hinchcliffe, Howard, Kimball, Lloyd, Luyendyk Jr., Mann, Matos, Medeiros, Mutoh, Newgarden, Perera, Plowman, Roth, Saavedra, Simmons, and Taylor.

So after further analysis, I am a bit surprised. I was fairly pessimistic in my thoughts before doing the research. But after looking at these numbers, I am surprised. That is a lot of top-ten finishes from Lights graduates. You take look at this while also realizing that a) A lot of the drivers were part time drivers b) The only drivers that were/are on the "big teams" were/are Marco Andretti, Hideki Mutoh, Charlie Kimball, and James Hinchcliffe. The others were on small teams or teams that fielded a part-time entry. 

And with talent rising through Indy Lights with more talent on the way with the Road to Indy program, as well as the current studs currently racing, those stats are only going to rise in a positive manner. And a new chassis coming in 2014 is only going to make things better. Overall, Indy Lights is doing its job (if anybody even doubted that).

Let me know what you think.

-Matthew Hickey